New York - The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) is forecasting a 2 percent increase in back-to-school spending on CE, compared with last year's 6.7 percent rise.
The figure, based on U.S. Commerce Department data, covers the mid-July through mid-September period.
ICSC describes back-to-school as typically the second-largest sales driver of the year for retailers, accounting for more than 16 percent of annual sales.
Total back-to-school revenue is projected to rise 3 percent to $39 billion, compared with last year's 5 percent gain, the trade association said. Shoes and family clothing are expected to be the top performing categories, with increases of 3.5 percent each, while books are seen as the weakest, with a projected 1.5 percent gain.
ICSC chief economist and research director Michael Niemira attributed the more moderate forecast to tough comparisons with 2010, when spending recovered sharply from a sharp drop in 2009. Nevertheless, consumer fundamentals have improved relative to the same time last year, he said, and "the overall message from this projection is that sales are still likely to be quite healthy."
In contrast, Customer Growth Partners, a market research firm and consultancy, projects back-to-school spending to climb 6.2 percent, marking the best spending growth for the period since 2006, CNBC reported.
Separately, Staples cited laptops and tablets and e-readers among its top 10 back-to-school products and trends, which also include backpacks and classroom supplies. The No. 1 office-supply chain is promoting the season by offering a 15 percent-off savings pass for $10 that can be purchased until Aug. 13 and used until Sept. 17. In addition, students who show their college acceptance letters or student IDs will receive a $100 rebate via prepaid Visa card when purchasing select laptops.
Apple is also offering a $100 rebate, in the guise of a gift card for use on its Mac App Store, the iTunes Store, the App Store and the iBookstore, when buying a qualifying Mac direct from the company or through a participating Apple Authorized Campus Store through Sept. 20. The gift card replaces Apple's traditional iPod giveaway.